73rd United States Congress

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73rd United States Congress
USCapitol1956.jpg
United States Capitol (1956)

Duration: March 4, 1933 – January 3, 1935

Senate President: John N. Garner
Senate Pres. pro tem: Key Pittman
House Speaker: Henry T. Rainey
Members: 96 Senators
435 Representatives
5 Non-voting members
Senate Majority: Democratic
House Majority: Democratic

Sessions
Special: March 4, 1933 – March 6, 1933
1st: March 9, 1933 – June 15, 1933
2nd: January 3, 1934 – June 18, 1934
<72nd 74th>

The seventy-third United States Congress was a meeting of the legislative branch of the United States federal government, composed of the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. It met in Washington, D.C. from March 4, 1933 to January 3, 1935, during the first two years of Franklin D. Roosevelt's presidency. Because of the newly ratified 20th Amendment, the duration of this Congress, along with the term of office of those elected to it, was shortened by the interval between January 3 and March 4, 1935 (61 days). The apportionment of seats in the House of Representatives was based on the Fifteenth Census of the United States in 1930. Both chambers had a Democratic majority.

Contents

Major events[edit]

Major legislation[edit]

First Session[edit]

The first session of Congress, known as the "Hundred Days", took place before the regular seating and was called by President Roosevelt specifically to pass two acts:

  • March 9, 1933: The Emergency Banking Act (ch. 1, 48 Stat. 1) was enacted within four hours of its introduction. It was prompted by the "bank holiday" and was the first step in Roosevelt's "first hundred days" of the New Deal. The Act was drafted in large part by officials appointed by the Hoover administration. The bill provided for the Treasury Department to initiate reserve requirements and a federal bailout to large failing institutions. It also removed the United States from the Gold Standard. All banks had to undergo a federal inspection to deem if they were stable enough to re-open. Within a week 1/3 of the banks re-opened in the United States and faith was, in large part, restored in the banking system. The act had few opponents, only taking fire from the farthest left elements of Congress who wanted to nationalize banks altogether.
  • March 10, 1933: The Economy Act of 1933. Roosevelt, in sending this act to Congress, warned that if it did not pass, the country faced a billion dollar deficit. The act balanced the federal budget by cutting the salaries of government employees and cutting pensions to veterans by as much as 15 percent. It intended to reassure the deficit hawks that the new president was fiscally conservative. Although the act was heavily protested by left-leaning members of congress, it passed by an overwhelming margin.
President Franklin D. Roosevelt signs the Tennessee Valley Authority Act

The session also passed several other major pieces of legislation:

Second Session[edit]

Constitutional amendments[edit]

Hearings[edit]

"Merchants of Death"[edit]

The Senate Munitions Committee came into existence solely for the purpose of this hearing. Although World War I had been over for sixteen years, there were revived reports that America's leading munition companies had effectively influenced the United States into that conflict, which killed 53,000 Americans, hence the companies' nickname "Merchants of Death."

The Democratic Party, controlling the Senate for the first time since the first world war, used the hype of these reports to organize the hearing in hopes of nationalizing America's munitions industry. The Democrats chose a Republican renowned for his ardent isolationist policies, Senator Gerald P. Nye of North Dakota, to head the hearing. Nye was typical of western agrarian progressives, and adamantly opposed America's involvement in any foreign war. Nye declared at the opening of the hearing "when the Senate investigation is over, we shall see that war and preparation for war is not a matter of national honor and national defense, but a matter of profit for the few."

Over the next eighteen months, the "Nye Committee" (as newspapers called it) held ninety-three hearings, questioning more than two hundred witnesses, including J.P. Morgan, Jr. and Pierre du Pont. Committee members found little hard evidence of an active conspiracy among arms makers, yet the panel's reports did little to weaken the popular prejudice against "greedy munitions interests."

The hearings overlapped the 73rd and 74th Congresses. They only came to an end after Chairman Nye provoked the Democratic caucus into cutting off funding. Nye, in the last hearing the Committee held in early 1936, attacked former Democratic President Woodrow Wilson, suggesting that Wilson had withheld essential information from Congress as it considered a declaration of war. Democratic leaders, including Appropriations Committee Chairman Carter Glass of Virginia, unleashed a furious response against Nye for "dirtdaubing the sepulcher of Woodrow Wilson." Standing before cheering colleagues in a packed Senate chamber, Glass slammed his fist onto his desk in protest until blood dripped from his knuckles, effectively prompting the Democratic caucus to withhold all funding for further hearings.

Although the "Nye Committee" failed to achieve its goal of nationalizing the arms industry, it inspired three congressional neutrality acts in the mid-1930s that signaled profound American opposition to overseas involvement.

Party summary[edit]

For details, see Changes in membership, below.

Senate[edit]

There were 48 states with two Senators per state gave the Senate 96 seats. Membership changed with four deaths, one resignation, and two appointees who were replaced by electees.

Party
(shading indicates majority caucus)
Total
Democratic Republican Farmer-Labor Vacant
End of previous Congress 46 48 1 95 1
Begin (March 4, 1933) 59 36 1 96 0
March 11, 1933 35 95 1
May 24, 1933 60 96 0
June 24, 1933 59 95 1
October 6, 1933 34 94 2
October 19, 1933 35 95 1
November 3, 1933 58 94 2
November 6, 1933 59 95 1
January 1, 1934 60 96 0
November 7, 1934
Final voting share 63% 36% 1%
Beginning of next Congress 70 23 1 (+1 Progressive) 95 1

House of Representatives[edit]

Membership changed with twelve deaths and three resignations.

Party
(shading indicates majority caucus)
Total
Democratic Republican Farmer-Labor Vacant
End of previous Congress 217 217 1 435 0
Begin (March 4, 1933) 311 117 5 433 2
April 22, 1933 312 434 1
April 29, 1933 311 433 2
May 12, 1933 310 432 3
May 17, 1933 309 431 4
June 19, 1933 308 430 5
June 22, 1933 307 429 6
June 24, 1933 308 430 5
July 5, 1933 309 431 4
August 27, 1933 116 430 5
September 23, 1933 308 429 6
October 3, 1933 309 430 5
October 19, 1933 115 429 6
November 5, 1933 114 428 7
November 7, 1933 310 429 6
November 14, 1933 311 430 5
November 28, 1933 312 431 4
December 19, 1933 313 113
December 28, 1933 114 432 3
January 16, 1934 115 433 2
January 30, 1934 116 434 1
April 1, 1934 312 433 2
May 1, 1934 313 434 1
May 29, 1934 115 433 2
June 8, 1934 312 432 3
July 7, 1934 313 433 2
August 19, 1934 312 432 3
August 22, 1934 311 431 4
September 30, 1934 114 430 5
Final voting share 72.4% 26.4% 1.2%
Beginning of next Congress 322 103 3 (+7 Progressive) 435 0

Leadership[edit]

[ Section contents: Senate: Majority (D), Minority (R)House: Majority (D), Minority (R) ]

Senate[edit]

Majority (Democratic) leadership[edit]

Minority (Republican) leadership[edit]

House of Representatives[edit]

Majority (Democratic) leadership[edit]

Minority (Republican) leadership[edit]

Members[edit]

Senate[edit]

Senators are popularly elected statewide every two years, with one-third beginning new six-year terms with each Congress. Preceding the names in the list below are Senate class numbers, which indicate the cycle of their election.

House of Representatives[edit]

The names of members of the House of Representatives are preceded by their district numbers.

Changes in membership[edit]

Senate[edit]

State Senator Reason for Vacancy Successor Date of Successor's Installation
Nebraska Robert Howell (R) Died March 11, 1933 William H. Thompson (D) May 24, 1933
New Mexico Sam Bratton (D) Resigned June 24, 1933 when appointed Associate Justice of the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit Carl Hatch (D) November 6, 1933
Vermont Porter Dale (R) Died October 6, 1933 Ernest Gibson (R) October 19, 1933
Wyoming John Kendrick (D) Died November 3, 1933 Joseph C. O'Mahoney (D) January 1, 1934
Nebraska William Thompson (D) Duly elected successors qualified on November 6, 1934 Richard Hunter (D) November 7, 1934
Montana John Erickson (D) James E. Murray (D)

House of Representatives[edit]

District Vacator Reason for Vacancy Successor Date of successor's installation
Texas 15th Vacant John Garner had resigned at the end of the previous Congress Milton H. West April 22, 1933
Arizona At-large Vacant Lewis W. Douglas (D) had resigned at the end of the previous Congress Isabella Greenway (D) October 3, 1933
Texas 7th Clay Stone Briggs (D) Died April 29, 1933 Clark W. Thompson (D) June 24, 1933
Arkansas 5th Heartsill Ragon (D) Resigned May 12, 1933 David D. Terry (D) December 19, 1933
Georgia 10th Charles H. Brand (D) Died May 17, 1933 Paul Brown (D) July 5, 1933
Louisiana 6th Bolivar E. Kemp (D) Died June 19, 1933 Jared Y. Sanders, Jr. (D) May 1, 1934
Alabama 8th Edward B. Almon (D) Died June 22, 1933 Archibald Hill Carmichael (D) November 14, 1933
Pennsylvania 9th Henry Winfield Watson (R) Died August 27, 1933 Oliver Walter Frey (D) November 7, 1933
West Virginia 3rd Lynn Hornor (D) Died September 23, 1933 Andrew Edmiston, Jr. (D) November 28, 1933
Illinois 21st J. Earl Major (D) appointed as a judge of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Illinois October 6, 1933 Seat remained vacant until next Congress
Vermont At-large Ernest W. Gibson (R) Appointed U.S. Senator October 19, 1933 Charles A. Plumley (R) January 16, 1934
New York 34th John D. Clarke (R) Died November 5, 1933 Marian W. Clarke (R) December 28, 1933
New York 29th James S. Parker (R) Died December 19, 1933 William D. Thomas (R) January 30, 1934
Michigan 3rd Joseph L. Hooper (R) Died February 22, 1934 Seat remained vacant until next Congress
North Carolina 4th Edward W. Pou (D) Died April 1, 1934 Harold D. Cooley (D) July 7, 1934
Pennsylvania 13th George F. Brumm (R) Died May 29, 1934 Seat remained vacant until next Congress
Idaho 2nd Thomas C. Coffin (D) Died June 8, 1934 Seat remained vacant until next Congress
New York 23rd Frank Oliver (D) Resigned June 18, 1934 Seat remained vacant until next Congress
Illinois 20th Henry T. Rainey (D) Died August 19, 1934 Seat remained vacant until next Congress
Kansas 5th William A.Ayres (D) Resigned August 22, 1934 after being appointed a member of the Federal Trade Commission Seat remained vacant until next Congress
Pennsylvania 2nd James M. Beck (R) Resigned September 30, 1934 Seat remained vacant until next Congress

Employees[edit]

Senate[edit]

House of Representatives[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ The Vice President of the United States serves as the President of the Senate. See U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 3, Clause 4
  2. ^ The Democratic Senate Majority Leader also serves as the Chairman of the Democratic Conference.